Why There is Lassa Fever reoccurrence in Nigeria- Expert
By Olamide Fadoju
A health expert has explained why Nigeria is seeing a reoccurrence of the deadly Lassa Fever virus.
Doctor Fred Unuigbohai was on the programme, Morning Crossfire on Nigeria Info 99.3 FM. He said some patients suffering from the disease refuse to seek medical help or “tend to manage it” and make matters worse.
“You see the individuals who have managed it at home and no improvements and they present to the doctor,” he said. “Most times they don’t give a detailed and accurate history. Some of them try to keep to themselves. So they don’t present early. Some of them keep to themselves. If for any reason one dies any other individual who hears such runs away, doesn’t present again.”
“So you have to start probing, is there any other individual feeling sick around you? And you hear there was one, and when you test for Lassa it becomes positive,” Doctor Unuigbohai continued.
Speaking further he said health workers have taken steps to address this problem by having ‘high index of suspicion’ so they don’t fail to diagnose Lassa Fever.
“So during this period, we tell health workers to have a high index of suspicion. Whenever you see any individual telling you ‘I’m cold, I’m feeling ill’, even though you are going to treat for Malaria, have Lassa at the back of your mind.”
But Doctor Unuigbohai is unhappy with the shortage of adequate medical personnel and facilities. He said it’s one of the reasons for Nigeria’s failure to overcome the disease.
“We have a ratio of one doctor to ten thousand. An average doctor sees a minimum of a hundred patients per day. We are having a whole issue with the manpower and with financing policies. An individual who wants to come to the health facilities gets to the health facilities can’t access the doctor, stays in the lab the whole day because the Lab scientists are overwhelmed. Why won’t they seek alternatives?"
Since the recent outbreak of the disease, The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control says 47 deaths have been reported in 23 states and across 74 local government areas.
The worst-hit states are Edo, Ondo and Ebonyi.